What is Friends of Station Square?

Friends of Station Square, Inc. is a tax exempt, not-for-profit 501(c) (3) corporation founded in 1992 to promote and encourage community spirit, and to heighten community support for the preservation, improvement and beautification of Station Square and its surrounds.

Station Square, rich in history, is the centerpiece of Forest Hills Gardens, a planned community in New York, recognized internationally and studied by architects and planners as a fine example of the principles of Ebenezer Howard's English Garden Suburbs movement.

Friends of Station Square had its beginnings when a group of local residents, alarmed by the obvious and severe signs of deterioration in and around the station, banded together in an attempt to find ways to reverse this trend by demonstrating a commitment to this area in tangible ways. Friends of Station Square believed that this was the way to focus attention on the Square, and to show legislators and others just how important it is to members of the community.

Projects

Landscaping and Planting
Initial activities focused on planting shrubs, flowers and ground cover in the Square. Community response was gratifying, both in terms of volunteers and money contributed. With the support and enthusiasm of the neighborhood, Friends of Station Square grew into an incorporated membership organization. Advocacy for the rehabilitation of the historic LIRR station became a cause embraced with great success. Friends of Station Square worked with Community Board 6, the Forest Hills Gardens Corporation, and local legislators to generate support for the station. The MTA committed $8 million to the project and the LIRR did the planning and design work. Throughout the two-year reconstruction, Friends of Station Square met with all groups involved to assure a sensitive and accurate renovation. With the completion of the station, the next phase involved raising funds to restore the landscape surrounding the station to its original beauty. The Millennium Landscape Appeal garnered more than $100,000 to renew the station plantings, a task it carries out through a permanent agreement with the LIRR. The planting of annuals and the care of the roses in the various planters around the Square is accomplished every spring by these dedicated committee members. Funds for these efforts come from Friends of Station Square membership dues, from appeals to the community and fundraising events. Today, all who pass through the Square are greeted by trees, shrubs and flowers in seasonal display.

Daffodil Project
Friends of Station Square participated in the Daffodil Project in 2005. Originally founded to commemorate September 11, the Daffodil Project raises the spirit of New Yorkers and beautifies the city parks and open spaces through the planting of these sturdy, sunny flowers. Our volunteers picked up 500 daffodil bulbs of the 70,000 being given away this fall by the Project in the five boroughs to interested civic groups. We will be planting our bulbs at the end of October in the embankments, in front of the Inn and the Christian Science Reading Room. The Daffodil Project is jointly sponsored by The Parks Council, The Coalition for NYC Parks and the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation.

Trestle Pigeon Mitigation
A helpful tip from local resident and architect, Neil Parker brought BirdMaster, a company that provides state of the art bird barriers to the attention of Friends of Station Square. BirdMaster has solved bird infestation problems on many historic buildings all over the country including the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. No birds are harmed by product. They simply fly away to other habitats.

Things are definitely cleaner there as a result of the BirdMaster netting installed with State funding secured by former Assemblyman Michael Cohen in 2005. Trucks sometimes disregard the warning signage about the trestle’s elevation as they barrel through ripping the BirdMaster netting, and then ultimately getting stuck underneath necessitate expensive repairs which must be done before the pigeons find their way back to the old roosting sites over the pedestrian walkways. FOSS has been underwriting the costs of necessary repairs.

We continue to work with the LIRR to have the walls and sidewalks power-washed from time to time to clean the area.

Doe Fund
FOSS joins with the Forest Hills business community in contributing to the Ready, Willing & Able program of the Doe Fund which provides provides street cleaning services to the Austin Street and Continental Avenue commercial areas.

Burns Street Fence
The MTA and the Gardens Corporation have reached an agreement on the sturdy, decorative fence designed to protect the community of Forest Hills from access to the dangers of the tracks along Burns Street between Tennis Place and Ascan Avenue. This fence advocated by Friends of Station Square over four years ago, will be funded with monies from the state. It was designed to the specifications of the Forest Hills Gardens. Signs of renewal of work on the project are in evidence again as the old fence has been removed, tree work is being done and holes for the posts are being prepared.

Ascan Avenue Trestle Walkway
Friends of Station Square met with Andrew Hevesi, our representative to the state legislature who to discuss the deplorable condition of the walkway under the trestle at Ascan Avenue. Constantly dripping walls caused puddles to form on the sidewalk. In the winter these puddles froze and the pavement cracked and heaved and became a treacherous stretch of walkway. Assemblyman Hevesi had pictures of the site taken, and met with to the head of the Department of Traffic about the dangerous walking conditions. The efforts of all created the pressure to get this overdue work done. While while long in coming, the difference it makes for so many people from mothers with strollers to senior citizens has had a major impact on the everyday safety of our citizens.

Goals

Educating the public to the architectural and historic significance of the Square, and the importance of its preservation is a vital part of our mission. Care of

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the station landscaping will be a long-term effort as the trees and plantings grow and fill in the space. Maintaining relationships with the LIRR and the MTA for the safety, cleanliness and security of the newly rebuilt station is important. Social and educationa events that bring our community together on behalf of the Square are on the agenda as well. We will continue to plan and support other community improvement projects, cultural events and exhibitions.

With your support, we will be able to continue our efforts to advocate, preserve and educate on behalf of the community, helping to keep Forest Hills a great place to live!

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